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Yosemite Announces New Lottery System for Camp 4

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Yosemite National Park announced yesterday that, going forward, the historic Camp 4 will rely on a  lottery system to determine who gets campsites. Previously, Camp 4 operated on a a first-come, first-served basis. The new lottery system will take effect on May 21, 2019, and be tested on a trial basis in summer 2019.

Royal Robbins sorts hardware for the second ascent of The Nose, El Capitan, by Robbins, Chuck Pratt, Joe Fitschen and Tom Frost. Spread out on the Camp 4 table, most of these pitons were handmade by Yvon Chouinard. Photo: Tom Frost.

Since the days of Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard, Camp 4 has been the epicenter of climbing culture in Yosemite Valley. Smack dab in the middle of it is the classic boulder problem Midnight Lightning. It remains the foremost public square for climbers in Yosemite, where professionals and dirtbags alike camp, congregate, find partners, swap stories, share beta and walk slacklines.

In recent years, as Camp 4 has become more popular—due to both greater numbers of climbers and general campers—the lengths to which people have had to resort to secure a campsite have become increasingly involved. The Yosemite press release states, “In order to wait for one of the available spaces to open up, campers line up all day, and sometime the night before, with the hopes of getting a camping space. This system is inefficient and has contributed to wildlife issues due to improper food storage, out of bounds camping, and conflicts between campers.”

The new lottery system aims to eliminate this midnight line-up without converting Camp 4 to a full-on reservation-based campsite. The lottery will open at 12:01 a.m. each night and close at 4:00 p.m. each afternoon. People will be able to enter their names into the lottery online at Lottery winners’ campsite stays will begin begin the following day.

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